Matt Buyten trains for Moto X Step Up
Matt Buyten's last stand
While recognized as a solid Moto X freestyler, Matt Buyten is best known for his Step Up skills, backed by four X Games Step Up golds, including back-to-back in 2010 and 2011. When the pressure is on, Buyten digs deep and finds a way, even if it's not pretty. His 17-attempt 2004 battle with Jeremy McGrath, when Buyten's shoulder popped out of its socket twice, is the stuff of X Games legend. This year, Buyten returns to X Games Austin for what will be his final X Games appearance. Recently, photographer Chris Tedesco caught up with Buyten in training for his final Moto X Step Up battle.
Every millimeter counts
When the perfect Step Up setting is on the line, every millimeter counts. Here, mechanic Andrew Bauer measures the sag to set the suspension for Buyten to get the best drive and pop off the lip. The angle of approach to the Step Up bar is impacted by suspension settings.
The holeshot in Step Up is just as important as the start of a Moto X race, if not more so. For that right feel and drive out of the hole, Buyten experiments with different strength clutch plates and springs to find his optimal setup.
The lucky bike
Unlike his other competitors on 4-Strokes that use modern fuel-injected engines, Buyten prefers a carbureted engine from 2008. He did happen to win X Games gold on this bike in 2010 and 2011 in Los Angeles.
Chain sag and length can effect how the bike launches and leaves the lip. Get it wrong and your night in Austin will end with a trip straight into the crossbar.
Lip prep is something Buyten has become accustomed to throughout his 14 X Games appearances. Austin will mark his 15th X Games appearance, and his last Moto X Step Up competition.
Setting the bar high
Matt Buyten is prepared to sail high over the bar in Austin.
Mechanic Andrew Bauer goes over changes made to the 2008 Honda CRF450R between test runs to improve performance for Buyten.
The Buyten crew
What you don't normally see is the crew behind the scenes helping Buyten along the way. He couldn't do it without all of the team's help and support.
Not for the weak
Moto X Step Up is not for the weak. Falling straight down from over 40 feet in the air takes its toll on the body. While earning the silver medal in 2004, Buyten dislocated his shoulder twice in an epic 17-round battle against Jeremy McGrath.
After four gold, one silver and two bronze X Games medals, Buyten is motivated and fired up to compete for gold in his final X Games Moto X Step Up appearance.
Sky is the limit
Who knew the sky would be the limit for Matt Buyten? He emerged on the X Games Moto X Step Up scene with a bang in 2003, earning a gold medal. He went on to battle seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath, beat the best of all time in Ricky Carmichael and to create a rivalry with Ronnie Renner that gave everyone something to cheer about. For that, we thank you.